US election 2020: Beto O’Rourke to launch presidential bid

Image copyrightReuters
Image caption Robert “Beto” O’Rourke is a media-friendly rising star in the Democratic Party

The former Texas Congressman Robert “Beto” O’Rourke is to formally announce he is running for president in the 2020 election after months of speculation.

The Democrat told a TV station in his home state he is joining the race to take on Republican President Donald Trump, who is seeking his second term.

Mr O’Rourke, 46, is the 15th Democrat to declare his bid for the White House.

In last year’s mid-term election, he ran a tight race against Republican Ted Cruz for his Senate seat.

His campaign proved ultimately unsuccessful, but he did better than any Democrat in Texas for decades.

He joins a growing roster of people vying for the Democratic nomination – including Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Kamala Harris, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg to name a few.

Who is Beto O’Rourke?

His first name is actually Robert, but is known by his nickname Beto – a common contraction of Roberto, which he picked up as a child in El Paso.

The former rock musician is regarded as a media-friendly rising star in the Democratic Party, who can draw huge crowds and funding.

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Media captionRival rallies: President Trump v Democrat Beto O’Rourke in El Paso, Texas

“I’m really proud of what El Paso did and what El Paso represents,” Mr O’Rourke said in a text message to local TV station KTSM.

“It’s a big part of why I’m running. This city is the best example for this country at its best.”

A fluent Spanish speaker, the Texan politician with Irish roots broke Senate fundraising records, amassing more than $80 million (£62 million) over the course of his 2018 campaign.

The former congressman is expected to make his formal announcement on Thursday via social media before appearing in Iowa, one of the key states in the early part of an election campaign.

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